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Posty Jetsam: Cutesy Addiction, Rape Advisory Chart, Suddenly Slag

6 November 2012

Because I’m kind of busy, and will probably remain kind of busy for a little while, here are a few mini-posts I’m dumping on y’all without the courtesy of fleshing them out into good posts.

 


First off, this is one of those things I hesitate to talk about, folks.  I would like to finish my posting career without having been part of some lefty internetcine blogsquabble.  (“lol quit now.”  Tempting, but no.)  For that and other reasons, I’m not going to specifically call anyone out.  Also, this is an issue that’s directly impacted me, but not one I can speak about from personal experience, so I’m trying to walk that fine line between being an ally and an appropriator.

Over the past year or so, I have been disturbed by the frequency at which people in leftish spaces use ‘addiction’ and ‘junkie’ in frivolous and cutesy ways.  Many of these spaces take a very firm stance–admirably so–regarding ableism against other mental and physical issues.  Why is “I’m a youtube comments junkie” okay when “youtube comments are crazy” isn’t?

In a similar vein, I don’t know how many times I’ve seen a list like “murderers, rapists, and drug addicts,” from people who should probably know better.  Yeah, addicts can hurt people around them, intentionally or not.  I know.  But amazingly, their addiction usually hurts them most of all.  And, hold on to your butts, addicts are often aware of all this.  (As much as I love Trainspotting, I know it’s not a documentary.)  “But they made a bad decision and keep making it every time they use.”  As if drugs contain the Magical Fairy Dust of Holy Agency that erases a person’s socioeconomic, psychological, and genetic history the first time they even consider using.  As if every single user had a choice in the first place.  As if the rest of us don’t make harmful decisions and certainly don’t repeat them.  (As if–and I may lose some of you here–nobody should have the option to do something that could potentially kill them.  But an argument for legalizing all drugs is not the subject today.)

David L. Conroy suggests that one reason many non-suicidal people in societies with massive stigma against it fear and hate suicidal folks is because learning to understand suicidal ideation makes them face the possibility of their own suicide.  Perhaps it’s not so different with addiction.  I really don’t know.  Something to consider.

This got off topic.  Y’know, I know it’s hard not to fuck up.  I’ve used the language of addiction frivolously.  Probably way too recently.  Probably in company that I hurt by doing so, but for various understandable reasons, they didn’t call me out.  I don’t want to make the same mistake again.  I hope you don’t, either.

If you haven’t, please take some time to learn something about the reality of addiction and stigma from a person who’s actually been there.

 


Recently stumbled upon this chart at Echidne’s:

GOP Rape Advisory Chart

“The Republican Party Rape Advisory Chart”

[Ahh, look how many times it says (TX). I always feel so safe and valued here.  Like that time I caught a cougar eyeballing us in a completely black mountain basin at least a mile downhill from safety.  Welcome to Texas!]

This is in your Overton Window, US folks. It’s far past time to take some hammers to it.

ETA 22 November: Just got a trackback from this Daily Kos post by Brainwrap, who made the original version of this chart.  Apologies for not giving proper credit before.

 


Every once in a while, I remember this one time some dude in London called me a slag.  Let me set the scene for you, not because any of these details make one fucking bit of difference toward the legitimacy of misogyny–as if you need me to tell you that!–but so that you can picture the moment this dude and I shared.

It was between 8 and 9 at night during, I think, early spring.  I was wearing what I wore every day: more sensible than average shoes, jeans, my faux-Mao jacket, and a polyester ‘pashmina’ from one of London’s approximately ten thousand scarf wagons operated by a looming guy who will either scowl at you or call you darling when you hand him ₤10 for 3.  On my way home from a SOAS lecture or something, I stopped for the crosswalk light at the corner of Sidmouth Street and Grays Inn Road. (I’ll give you a minute if you’d like to Street View it.  Are you back?  Okay.)  I would usually just plod across some section of Grays Inn when there was a gap, but providence was shining on me that day.  Enter the cyclist.  He’s late 20s at most, at a glance white and average in every conceivable way, cruising very close to the curb at a speed I can only describe as lazy but intended to put distance between us once he’s said his piece.  Because it’s a bad piece and he probably knows that on some level.

Slag.  Let me tell you, all two of my dear readers, that I could never have imagined someone so utterly bored with their own misogyny.  Have you ever begun to read out a question in your brain voice, just to get to the end and see that the person has used a period instead of a question mark. Now you have! Right at the end, the way the bottom suddenly slides out and leaves you with a weird sense of ennui about whatever was being asked?  That was this dude’s whole deal.  In one word, one expression of misogyny he could hardly even be bothered to put the syllable of energy into, I understood this dude entirely.

Apparently even misogynists get bored with misogyny at this point.  Fortunately there’s a solution for that.

 

Academic Men Explain Things to Me

26 October 2012

Via fannie, good stuff. Good that women have a space to share and–ugh–”prove” the sort of shit that’s said to us in academic contexts. Aside from a few roll-eyed instances, I managed to isolate myself from a lot of that in the analogue world while I was doing my MA.

I hesitate to share this story because the necessary details could de-anonymize me to certain folks, but fuck it, I’ll do it anyway.  The most annoying dismissal I can recall came from a friend-of-a-friend I had met about two hours earlier. He’s some sort of self-styled genius who’s apparently good at convincing other people that he’s the greatest thing that will ever happen to science and philosophy. You know. My friend mentioned that I had just finished my degree. Then came the dreaded question that I seem to have to answer differently every time: what did I study? I gave a brief description of my dissertation (gender and sexuality in diaspora and if/how removal from place of origin opens up spaces to challenge scarequotes-traditional patriarchy. Yeah, I still have a hard time summarizing it). Genius Guy’s response to my merit- and distinction-level work  at perhaps the best school in the world for my particular confluence of subjects, my Year of Perpetual No-Fun and losing roughly 20% of my initial weight before noticing it because I didn’t have the money or time to take care of myself and my work simultaneously, my 25 years of living as a woman, a queer woman, briefly as an immigrant, on this Planet Earth? “You need to look at the difference between chimps and bonobos.” Humans should be like bonobos, he declared, because their society is matriarchal.  That’s it.

I did not bother to point out how cute it was that a proponent of matriarchy had dismissed everything the only woman in the room had said and done in order to promote his own pet theory (his girlfriend was, I’m fucking serious, in the kitchen cooking dinner for us–a dinner I could not eat, because it was a dead animal, but that’s beside the point).

Sometimes the best thing we can do for ourselves as women living in microaggression-steeped patriarchy is to just not fucking bother.

 

Music Break: Help a Comrade Out

19 October 2012

Normally I try not to enjoy a song too much before I find out what the lyrics are, in case they’re shit.  Not shit like “she loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah.”  Shit like oppressive.  But a few years ago I found myself immediately unable to not love Salif Keita’s “Bolon.”  Here’s a live version of it that’s, aside from the dumpy audio quality, even better than the album version:


So my request to you, internet, is to help me translate this song.  I lost all my google powers and can’t find it.  I definitely don’t think it’s going to do much oppression-reinforcement, but I still prefer to know what I’m listening to.

Any help at all is much appreciated.

 

US Politics and Rape Culture Fatigue

9 October 2012

Nine Deuce reappears with shit that hits the nail on the head:

[...] I, like Lissa Harris, don’t see a huge difference between the way the world works today and the way Ryan Aiken would like it to operate, at least with regard to the prosecution of sexual assault. I suppose my lack of rage at reading and listening to arrogant, presumptuous quotes from smug phallocrats who are at best indifferent to the effect rape has on the individual woman or girl and on women and girls as a whole might be a symptom of rape fatigue, but I suspect I’ve been suffering from it for far longer than a few months, and that it has something to do with the paucity of posts around here. If the Kübler-Ross model is correct, then I suppose I’ve passed through the denial and anger phases and entered the acceptance phase in grieving the loss of the idea that men give a shit about women.

The Kübler-Ross model is more or less bullshit–and lol could I ever provide anecdata to that effect–but that really gives shape to this amorphous fatigue I’ve been sitting in since I gave up on the 2011 abortion legislation post halfway through the year.  I don’t write a lot about the specifics of US politics (particularly elections) for a number of reasons, and the fact that virtually nothing ever really changes is a major one.  Right-wing bodily autonomy laws certainly have material effects for the people who live under them.  There is no question of that.  But we still lived under a victim-hating rape culture, we still had hidden and dangerous abortions before this whac-a-mole legislation became all the rage a couple of years ago, and it’s extremely tiresome to see (and, yes, participate in) so much look-what-the-bad-man-said-this-time internet keymashing as if they haven’t been saying this shit and doing damage to us for thousands of years, as if our shame-fingers are going to do a damned thing to stop it.

I don’t have anything eloquent to say.  I don’t really have a one-stop solution to offer, other than radical revolt, and all that. I just wanted to toss a little bit of solidarity into the internet for anyone else who’s in the same landboat.

Feel free to vent in comments or in an email to the address on the right.

 

Oops, fundamentalism! An Iranian Woman Beats Up a Cleric

22 September 2012

Global Post:

According to a report by the semi-official Mehr News Agency, the unnamed woman beat a cleric so badly that he needed hospital treatment after he told her to cover up.

[...]

“‘She responded by telling me to cover my eyes, which was very insulting to me,’ Beheshti said. So he asked her a second time to cover up and also to put a lid on what he felt was verbal abuse.
She hit the man of the cloth, and he hit the ground.”

It’s great how he says it was insulting to him to tell him to cover his eyes when he was telling her to cover her body.  That statement is so perfect in its entitled, whiny stupidity that I can’t even comment on it.  Too bad her perspective is missing from all the reports.

Also, here’s a little game you can play at home: find this story on a few different sites and look at the language used to describe it.  She is called both a woman and a girl, making even her age range nebulous to us (or perhaps demonstrating once again that many people see ‘girl’ and ‘woman’ as synonymous).  Sometimes the cleric is said to have repeatedly “asked” her to cover up (1: doubtful; 2: if you ‘ask,’ and the person refuses, the conversation should be over; 3: it hardly seems like a request when there is a volunteer militia doing the exact same thing, and with the power to arrest women for how they dress).  Her responses were ‘snarky’ and ‘fierce,’ cutesy terms that suggest petulance and a sort of powerful, unhinged anger.  She hit “the man of the cloth,” not “the man who believed he had the right to control her.”  There is very little recognition of the fact that what was done to this woman–what’s probably been done to her dozens of times–is in itself an inherently hostile act.  Whether we believe that she reacted out of proportion or not, we must recognize that this physical violence was in response to pervasive, constant, systemic violence familiar to women throughout her society.

Food for thought, and all that.

(h/t Shakesville)

 

Things That Need to Stop: Sexywhatever Halloween Costumes

19 September 2012

Joining the shit-ranks of the Pocahotties and, well, all the other spray-paint-on-plastic-wrap quality Halloween costumes for women, Jane Doe DOA Body Bag (via Shakesville).  Because, ladies, you must be fuckable even in death.  If anybody in the entire world is able to figure out what the fuck your impressively generic plain black longshirt costume is supposed to be.

That’s all I have to say.  I can’t even believe I’m making a post about a Halloween costume, of all things in the grand cosmos I could make a post about, but my god, just look at it.  Actually don’t, because going to that site feels like gently dipping your computer into a vat of liquid shit being stirred by a leering guy who keeps spitting into it.  I’m going to go look at birds or something now.

 

Boobquake Revisited

24 August 2012

“I’ve always considered myself a feminist, but I used to be one of those teenagers who assumed the awesome ladies before me had solved everything. But Boobquake made me wake up.”

I am really glad that Jen McCreight has come around to seeing that Boobquake was not the best idea.  (Holy fuck, don’t get me started on Boobquake.)  I’m sorry that it took being treated how women who speak are always treated for her to see what some of us had been saying all along.  That isn’t sarcastic–many of us have gotten to where we are via similar routes.  Maybe her post can open up some brains and shorten that trip for others.

A little rant: Atheists can be more thickheaded and infuriating than religious folk when they uphold bigotry and oppression because, you know, we expect more from you.  More open-mindedness and critical thinking skills.  More respect for evidence.  More rationality.  I mean, we keep telling everyone that we’re good at that stuff, right?  Yet in any discussion of the -isms out there, many atheists will uncritically accept so much bad science (that they may or may not understand as bad) and ‘conventional wisdom’ garbage to confirm their biases.  Some of the most smug, self-satisfied people I’ve ever come across have been movement atheists, as if they have everything all figured out because they were brilliant enough to notice that the Bible contradicts itself or whatever.  Congratulations, you can read!  Being good at rejecting religious dogma and understanding the religious justifications for various bigotries doesn’t automatically make you a good person, or even a particularly clever one.  If ultimately you don’t care about being a better person and improving the planet, then you’re an asshole and why should anyone talk to you?  End rant.

I find it interesting that within the last year or so, two well-known internet skeptic women have been galvanized by the toxic misogyny and chauvinism in their communities to put feminism at one focus of their atheist activism.  Will it amount to anything major within the movement?  I don’t know.  But I think it has the potential to be major, particularly for atheist women and other marginalized folks who have experienced hostility within the movement but hesitated to rock the boat.  Making a decent and productive space for such people–whether that means fixing the communities that already exist or forming new ones with social justice as foundational principles–is what’s most important in the short term.

Anyway, it’s a great post and I was especially happy to see that McCreight wants there to be rifts in the community rather than tolerance of oppression.  (A close reader of this post will notice that I keep vacillating between including myself as an atheist and casting them as a group I’m opposed to.  The fact that I’m a rather ‘militant’ atheist who feels no community with movement atheism is not coincidental to McCreight’s post or this response.)  I think there are places where she’s a bit overly optimistic about the speed at which atheists are getting our acts together, but that’s a minor complaint based on how often I’ve seen those sorts of comments devolve into circle-jerking and self-congratulation.  We must all be vigilant about complacency and cautious with optimism, is all I’m sayin’.

In conclusion, this made me lol:

Now it’s time for a third wave – a wave that isn’t just a bunch of “middle-class, white, cisgender, heterosexual, able-bodied men” patting themselves on the back for debunking homeopathy for the 983258th time or thinking up yet another great zinger to use against Young Earth Creationists.

 

30 August Edit: Here is the post JMP mentioned in comments, on atheism and communist theory.  Good stuff!